FCC Chairman Plans to Make Cellphone Unlocking Legal by the End of the Year

Discussion in 'Android News' started by dgstorm, Nov 15, 2013.

  1. dgstorm

    dgstorm Editor in Chief
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Dec 30, 2010
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    Austin, TX

    Several times throughout the year we shared stories related to the FCC law making it illegal for owners of smartphones to carrier unlock their smartphones without permission from the carrier. A petition was filed asking the US President and Congress to change this law. The President and several politicians from both sides have been working on laws to get this changed, but of course, we all know how glacially slow Congress moves on things. Luckily, folks who want to see this law changed have a little known ally from within the FCC themselves, Chairman Tom Wheeler.

    Apparently, Chairman Wheeler has been working hard for the last eight months directly with the CTIA to get the regulations altered and allow customers to carrier unlock their devices when their contract is fulfilled. Unfortunately, the CTIA has been dragging their feet on the issue. Despite this, Chairman Wheeler is working on a plan to get things changed. Wheeler recently sent a letter to the CTIA. He demanded they take action on several key points, and gave them a deadline of December. If they don't comply, the FCC will take regulatory action against them. These are the five key points outlined in his letter,
    • provide a clear, concise and readily accessible policy on unlocking
    • unlock mobile devices for legitimate owners of those devices once their service contract has been fulfilled
    • notify customers when their devices are eligible to be unlocked and/or automatically unlock those devices for free
    • unlock devices or provide an explanation of a denial of any unlock requests within two days
    • unlock devices for military service men and women upon deployment
    Interestingly, right now the FCC and the CTIA are actually in agreement on all of these points except for one. Point number three is contentious to the CTIA because they don't want to be forced to tell customers when their phones can be unlocked, and especially not for free. Luckily, Wheeler's ultimatum means they can't really get stuck on this point for long. They either have to agree to his terms or come up with an alternative solution by December. If not, then the FCC will be able to step in and make the necessary changes.

    Source: FCC Letter
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  2. mountainbikermark

    mountainbikermark Super Moderator
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    Sep 5, 2010
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    This makes sense for subsidized devices from both sides perspectives to me. It'd be much like number porting. You sign a contract obligating but once that obligation is met, either by finishing the contract it buying out early, the device is yours, actually moreso than your phone number, thus you should be allowed to take it, just like your number, to any carrier you desire.
    If the device was purchased without subsidy the device should be unlocked at time of purchase imo. No matter what point the final set value of the device it paid it should be unlocked from the carrier.
    With so much going to SIM cards and global radios this is something more doable than ever before at less cost to the carrier initially.They charge an activation fee so in essence they could charge a deactivation fee

    Sent from my SCH-I605 using Xparent Green Tapatalk 2

    AECRADIO Active Member

    Sep 2, 2013
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    Mesa, AZ.
    Current Phone Model:
    1.Moto-G, Droid-X, 3.Droid 2
    One point to make about the FCC, is that they are not a law making agency nor can they legally enforce laws, which is why the FCC only has 'rules', they have no legitimate authority or powers, they wield such power by threat of fines.
    I deal directly with the FCC on radio systems licensing issues, as well as site licenses, and the only reason businesses buy a license, is because they are duped into assuming they must.
    For business, there are legitimate laws and rules, but for citizens, there are far fewer snags and pitfalls we need to worry about, legally.
    When you are connected to anything 'federal', you obtain that 'might makes right' stance, and use it to your advantage.
  4. MissionImprobable

    MissionImprobable Silver Member

    Sep 5, 2011
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    The part I'm wondering about is what you mentioned, the fulfillment of contracts. If you pay full price for a device then as soon as it is on the network you have complied with all terms and conditions and have no obligation to remain with the carrier. This makes me thing over time there will be more movement towards devices already being unlocked if they are purchased at full retail.
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